Dear Lucy: During the last year I lost my job and had to really tighten my belt financially. However, I have also gained 20 pounds.
Dear CY: Lately, I noticed that the two most popular self-help topics are dieting and making or saving money. I think they are actually two sides of the same coin. Dieting and finding money can both be related to scarcity thinking...the idea or belief that there is not enough. Not enough food, not enough money, not enough love, not enough work; just “not enough!”
When we set up a budget, we can choose to budget to scarcity thinking, “I have to deprive myself of what I really want because I don’t have enough money.” So the whole time we are on this budget it’s all about what we don’t or can’t have.
Alternatively, we could choose to budget to a goal with a clear purpose or what I call intention and motive. For example, “my goal is to expend my resources at this particular level so that I can create a particular level of surplus that will allow me to learn the skill of discipline, create greater financial freedom, faithfully pay my creditors according to my ability to pay and increase my giving to my church.” Here you have a goal, a purpose and a motive that you can measure and feel good about.
Now that sounds a little more complex than “I only make $100 and my bills are $200 so I have to do without, blah, blah, blah.” It is the difference between avoiding something and approaching something. While having an income that does not cover our expenses (for whatever reason) is scary, dodging creditors and being angry, resentful or ending up in despair is also ugly!
So what does this have to do with putting on weight?
A basic survival need is eating. Our brains are wired to cause us to fight, flee or freeze in times of stress. To the extent that we can, we will successfully fight to survive and provide the basics of food, clothing and shelter. When we have surplus money, we are more likely to go out and buy extra clothing, house stuff, junk food and so forth. The more surplus money we have, the more sophisticated we get in our surplus spending.
When we start budgeting or cutting back because we believe that our choices are profoundly limited and there just is “not enough,” we may stuff down the awful, uncomfortable feelings that come up out of that by trying to fill that gaping hole in our hearts with food. When we believe that we no longer have the power to fight or run, we freeze.
How does freezing work? We surrender to the threat, find a way to ease it and make it endurable...over eating or eating when we are not hungry for food is a way to do that. Spending is no longer a viable alternative.
It’s not really about the money or the food as much as it is about our having learned how to manage stress and what we learned as children about handling bad feelings, disappointment, rejection and threats to our self-worth. It is so easy to judge ourselves and others harshly for being over weight or financially challenged. You are not the only person who can make this connection between your weight and your finances.
Are there overweight people without financial problems or broke people who are not overweight? Sure! But, we can all benefit by learning the fundamentals of understanding how the primitive part of our brain works and the impact of stress on our behavior. We behave according to what we believe to be reality. Losing one’s livelihood may not be the same as being stalked and possibly eaten by a tiger, but it certainly can feel like it! When being stalked by a tiger, I need to eat all I can because I don’t know when the next meal is coming or when I may become the meal!
So what if it’s all in my mind? As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Begin today to give thanks again and again for visible and invisible abundance. Give thanks for what you are learning in this experience. Park your mind in the space called gratitude, listen for divine inspiration and act on it!
Kill that tiger!
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy’s new book, “BE NOT ANXIOUS.” Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)